Im often asked, what do you do when the students arent around?, and the simple answer is, as it would be from any university technical support member of staff, I get involved in passion projects and these help me to stay up-to-date with the kit and keep my hand-in with video filmmaking. So, in April this year the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth was intent on producing an exciting 3D/360 degree immersive film, featuring work by students on the BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design course. The film production was conceived and led by Fashion and textiles course leader Tom Clulee, and senior technician and motion capture expert Alex Counsell. The plan was to showcase the finished film at Graduate Fashion Week in June 2017. Both Alex and Tom I asked me if I wanted to produce a making of and I jumped at the chance!
The concept behind this 360, 3D fashion film was to capture a flamboyant mix of dance and gothic circus, all to be staged at the beautiful New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. The fashion focus would allow a variety of outfits to be worn over a series of scene changes, and the dance and circus elements would all demonstrate the stresses and strains the clothes could endure. The film was to be shot using a Nokia OZO camera, hired in with an operator to assist with the setup, recording and media management for the film. The Nokia OZO was chosen for the task due to its high quality output, a total of 8 2K x 2K sensors would be stitched together, which would provide the detail needed in order to clearly see the fashion pieces when viewed later via a virtual reality headset. The ambisonic audio recording would then also be used to enhance the performance later on in post-production.
This was quite an exciting project to be involved with, and it represented a huge collaboration between University of Portsmouth staff and students, and a number of the external companies and individuals, plus of course the New Theatre Royal. The project also included student fashion designers, performers, choreographers, production designers, hair and makeup artists and technicians.
Documenting The Making Of Tritsch Tratsch
The 360 film was destined to be around 3 minutes long and although watching it would provide a fantastic immersive viewing experience, it would be hard to appreciate quite how much work and collaboration it had taken to make the film. I saw the latter issue as being my job to successfully convey, and because a 360 project of this scale had never been done at the University of Portsmouth before, the pressure was on to tell the story in a clear and engaging way. I enlisted the help of some colleagues from the BSc Television & Broadcasting degree, and with this small crew in place, we made our plans to film over the Easter teaching break.
I choose the Sony PXW-FS7 with kit lens, due to it being an extremely versatile camera, great for running and gunning thanks to its fantastic ergonomic design, making shoulder mounted shooting for extended periods of time really comfortable. The camera was also perfect to capture dynamic slow motion shots of dancers wearing the fashion designs on stage because of its 35mm sensor which gives a cinematic look to the video film, and due to it being capable of shooting up to 180fps in high definition. The Sony FS7 is a lovely bit of kit!
Sound was kept simple with Sony UWP radio mics attached directly to the camera. For lighting the interviews, a pair of lishuai bi-colour portable LED panels were employed, with the added benefit of being battery operated and therefore no need to lay any cables in the dark (a great big tick from health and safety there!) and it allowed the small crew to get about really quickly because so much was happening at once.
The real challenge as it is for any documentary, was to make sure we had the story covered, that we interviewed all of the key people involved, many of whom were there for one day only, and all of this had to happen in between takes of the 3D/360 film itself which needed to be captured to provide a variety of cutaways. This part was mostly successful, but some interviews had to be completed at a later stage, especially the ones with both key producers Tom and Alex.
A few weeks later and it was time to start the edit. I used Avid Media Composer and a mix of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects to created the graphics. The behind the scenes film was assembled focusing first on building a chronological story of the project, and because there was 15 contributors this was tricky element to get right. Once the story bed was assembled I began selecting from the wealth of cutaways that we had managed to collect on the day.
The Final Film
The 3D/360 film, entitled Tritsch Tratsch, (due to the music used in the film), was a huge success at the Graduate Fashion Week, and it was very well received by students and staff when showcased at the University graduate show. The general reactions of those experiencing immersive 3D/360 content for the first time is that of amazement, and it was a truly great experience to be involved in such a passionate and elaborate project!
A mobile quality version of the 360 film is now available online and it is best viewed using a 360 headset or Google Cardboard for the 3D video experience.
My completed film is also available to view, and I urge you to watch it just so you can hear from the many individuals that were involved in Tritsch Tratsch.
The 360 film Tritsch Tratsch can be viewed: https://youtu.be/PgIoljQjCX8